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Marketing’s Role In Revenue Generation Highlighted At Sales 2.0 Roundtable

After starting out as a small gathering of leading executives in Silicon Valley, the Sales 2.0 movement has spawned a series of conferences, a number of successful books and transformed the way many companies put sales and marketing automation tools and processes to use.

salesprocess20panelLast month’s Sales 2.0 Conference in Chicago marked the fifth event in this series and DemandGen Report used the gathering for a roundtable discussion with the top thought leaders in the space to discuss the impact this new approach is having on business. Ironically, much of the conversation centered around marketing and it’s critical role in successful Sales 2.0 transformations. In addition to sharing real world success stories and best practices, the group also offered a look ahead at what companies should be preparing to stay ahead of the competition.

Participants in the roundtable included:

- Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder of Publisher of Selling Power magazine, and co-host of the Sales 2.0 conference series

- David Thompson, CE0 and co-founder of, co-author of Sales 2.0 For Dummies

- Anneke Seley, coauthor of the new book, Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology, and CEO of Phone Works LLC

- Joe Galvin, VP of SiriusDecisions, an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in BtoB field sales, sales management, sales operations and sales technologies.

- Corinne Sklar, VP of Marketing at Bluewolf Consulting, a leading consultancy focused on helping organizations accelerate marketing, sales and customer care processes, leveraging SaaS and Cloud Computing technologies.

Here are the highlights of that roundtable discussion:

DemandGen Report: Can each of you share how you’ve seen the Sales 2.0 discipline mature from a few years back and how the definition for you has changed over that time.

Thompson: One of the biggest developments is that everyone has said ‘we have to get marketing to the table, too.’ It doesn’t make any sense to have Sales 2.0 without marketing at the table, without marketing feeding the funnel, without the processes and analogies that we put out they’re tying the two together trying to get better lead gen. That’s really the whole point, that the Web should help you be much more efficient at closing more deals faster, but marketing has to be at the table otherwise you’re not going to realize those gains.

Gschwandtner: I see changes from one conference to the next. I think that while technology evolves and adoption rates increase, I think a lot of the sales processes evolve. A lot of the old sales processes are dead and we have come to a “conversation economy” where conversations drive commerce. Conversations help surface the need and the pitch is dead. I tell everybody ditch the pitch. Cold calling is dead. There’s a lot better technology available to generate leads. Sales and marketing silos are dead.


There is a shift that I’ve seen recently. We’re moving from the delay economy to the real time economy...There are a lot of Web sites now. you can actually ask live questions. You get an instant answer from a network of tens of thousands of people who can answer these questions. We are compressing more into the real time space and we want to get rid of delays.

Three years ago we had about 60 different Sales 2.0 tools. Today we have about 1,200 and the average company today is now using about 6 or 7 different Sales 2.0 tools. Three years from now it’s going to be 20 or 30. We also need to take our cues from the consumer industry. Looking at the iPhone, in April of last year, the code was released so application developers could develop applications. Today we have 65,000 apps on the iPhone and there about 17,000 iPhone application publishers. So you’re going to see a similar phenomenon in the Sales 2.0 space where there will be more applications, better applications, real time focused applications that are going to revolutionize the way we sell, so we need to continually evolve as technology evolves people need to learn more.

DGR: Anneke, your book just hit the shelves a few months ago, but do you already feel you need to add a few chapters because things are changing so quickly?

Seley: From a personal level, what I have seen since the beginning of the year in my own business (helping companies transform the way they sell), is this Sales 2.0 definition that I like to use to make selling more effective and efficient for both the buyer and the seller that’s enabled by technology. It used to be that the sweet spot for my customers was Silicon Valley technology start-ups that wanted to use phone and Web, and lower the cost of sales.


Now with Sales 2.0 becoming more mainstream, my biggest customer this year is a media division of a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company that has seen decreasing margins and needs to change the way it sells in order to survive. We have non profits looking to reach more donors and constituents, wanting to learn about Sales 2.0. Medical and healthcare providers are looking to us for advice, and I see the world opening up. It’s not just the tech people. It’s not just the start-ups. Some of it was driven by the recession, but I think they’re just a different expectation now culturally and some of that is social media and all of using it as consumers and wanting those conveniences to follow into the business world.

Thompson: This goes back to a conversation Joe and I had couple of years ago when the whole Sales 2.0 thing was coming into focus. The debate was over what to call it. There was a big push by a lot of people to call it Buying 2.0 instead. The problem is Buying 2.0 would not appeal to the audience we were trying to educate. Calling it Sales 2.0 was kind of a necessity but the reality is that it is Buying 2.0 and it really boils down to the fact that customers do not want to be pitched when they’re not ready to talk to you. And salespeople do not want to talk to you if you’re not ready to be pitched. It’s really that simple.

The Web has created a dynamic in which both expectations are actually realistic, it’s just taking all the inefficiencies out of those buyers and sellers finding each other and hooking up through social media. Even though the moniker is Sales 2.0, under the covers it’s really Buying 2.0. The Internet will help buyers know when people are interested.

DGR: Joe can you share your perspective of how you’ve seen the definition or parameters change around it?

Galvin: What I see with a lot of the Sales 2.0 technologies are the applications and capabilities that will radically improve a salesperson’s productivity. What we’re seeing now is being built on that framework, these capabilities for knowledge management, lead development, and managing campaigns. So I see Sales 2.0 having gone full circle having talked about technology to tech solving business problems. I think the underlying driver of course is the unrelenting advance of technology.

It’s also about sales organizations beginning to penetrate in a much more cost-effective way, the SMB market place. That’s what brought marketing into the play, marketing’s ability to do a better more effective job and managing, processing, scoring qualifying ad passing leads to sales. And giving sales ability to gather leads and to more effectively manage their own communications. Sales 2.0 is really the advance of technology beyond the sales force accounting system to really begin to provide productivity tools to sales in response to the technology and the advance in where customers are in buying.

DGR: Corinne, at Bluewolf you are very close to the implementation of sales and marketing automation technology in the real world. What changes are you seeing in terms of sophistication and goals?

Sklar: The shift that we’ve seen is that our customers and clients are not saying ‘we need CRM,’ they’re leading with the business problem. The problem is, when we talk to them, often they already have a CRM system. What that says is that the technology has outpaced the ability for some of these organizations to leverage it effectively. We’re more focused today than we’ve ever been on nailing the business process because organizations aren’t really able to leverage some of these techs and they are not going to be as successful if they don’t have continued innovation and address the sales & marketing handshake. Those are tough conversations to have, but they’re the conversations that bring collaboration between the two organizations.


DGR: Joe, a few folks touched on marketing’s role in Sales 2.0. Can you expand on that? Where are some of the key spots where marketing is playing an active role and having the most benefit as Sales 2.0 evolves?

Galvin: A lot of it has to do with customers’ ability to source information. This has brought marketing to the forefront of the demand generation and demand creation play. The other is the conversation economy, which addresses product management and their ability to develop messages in a variety of formats. We have always had a verbal discussion, but now we’re seeing video and rich media come in to play. But it’s really the ability for marketing, across the reputation spectrum, which is where we see a lot of the social media work being done today. First it’s about demand creation with a lot of the great tools and marketing automation platforms, and then message management. It all falls under this umbrella of where and how sales and marketing come together to make sure that the marketing campaigns, messages, lead generation and all components flow through and into sales—not chucked over the wall at sales and hitting them over the head.

DGR: Corinne, how are you seeing marketing’s role change in some of the implementations you’re doing?

Sklar: I definitely see a big shift. I see more marketing people in our meetings. I think the big shift is obviously the success of marketing automation. We’ve been hearing about marketing automation and understanding how it affects the handshake with sales and moving into other technology like CRM. But we’re actually starting to see some of the success in adoption with those technologies now. Everyone for the last few years has been waiting for everyone to dive in. From a mid enterprise to enterprise perspective, now we’re seeing a large interest around actually getting these implemented and focusing on the sales and marketing handshake.

Thompson: The reason we were one of the founders of the Sales 2.0 conference is at Genius we really had the vision for a marketing platform for sales people and we naively thought, when we went to market, that we could create that product only for salespeople. That has had an incredibly powerful impact on our customers and users that now salespeople get info that used to only be available to marketers.

Essentially Sales 2.0 and our product add this democratizing influence on getting some marketing data out there in front of sales reps that they’d never seen before. Sales 2.0 and Genius, in some instances, taught sales people how to talk to marketing about what their needs were and it kind of reverse engineered the whole marketing space in that sense that it was then salespeople going to marketing saying ‘hey I’m using this marketing tool and you have to help me be better.’

DGR: On the flipside of that, can you share some examples of where marketing has sort of won the seed at the table?

Thompson: Intuit is a big customer of ours and they’re very intent on taking the amount of time out of the process that it takes to get a good lead out in front of the sales rep and fully arming that sales rep with all this digital profile data as well as a customized pitch. There’s no question that marketers can come to the table with a personalized pitch, based on data from the Web site, timeliness about that visit.

Galvin: Our research shows that even in the best of scenarios, marketing contributes to 18-24% of the sales pipeline. That suggests that salespeople drive the balance of that on their own. I don’t necessarily agree that cold calling is dead; it’s one of the many techniques. But salespeople are looking for technologies to help them cast a broader net into a more defined or specifics set of accounts or opportunities so they can do a better job to cross sell and upsell inside the existing base. I think we get caught up in the net new account approach and fail to recognize that in our mid-market, major market or enterprise class markets, this demand for a continuous engagement in demand creation sits squarely on the shoulder of sales. The balance of that demand generation doesn’t come from marketing is up to them, they need tools to help them do that.

DGR: What are some other examples of how marketing is more involved in Sales 2.0 processes?

Gschwandtner: Social media is going to change not only sales, but also marketing. I see marketing become the responsibility of literally everybody at the company. I think both sales and marketing need to collaborate and explore the potential of social media. The whole landscape is changing and we need to communicate better and become better customer engagers.

You can often tell when a customer is shopping around by which Twitter feeds they’re following. You basically know who your competition is.

Galvin: That becomes part of that digital persona or the raising of the bar in terms of sales requirements for intelligence and if there are new information sources about my customers that I don’t have access to I don’t know and therefore can’t leverage.

DGR: For those companies that have not yet adopted Sales 2.0 tools or processes, what are some of the key metrics you suggest they focus on?

Thompson: Conversion rates are king. As a marketer, how are you going to know how you’re effectively feeding sales? It’s really simple. Which sources of leads--whether its social media or SEM, Google, email marketing. Which of those sources of leads are converting both at a high rate and with high quality?

Gschwandtner: Sales 2.0 for lead generation is like the chicken soup for the recession economy. In a recession you need 15-20% more leads and how do you get them?

Seley: Revenue, sales metrics, who’s ready to buy, average sales cycle, average sales price; average conversion rate from each step in the sales cycle.

Sklar: Conversion rate tracking is something we see a lot now and recommend to our customer. Everything from inquiry to close, to identify gaps in the process.

Galvin: If you think about the premise of Sales 2.0, it’s all about driving sales productivity. That’s not the financial metrics of productivity, but looking at how much time and effort it takes a salesperson to do a specific activity and what’s the quality with which they do it. The premise of being able to make more sales calls of higher quality. When you think about productivity as a whole, it focuses on opportunities at the top of the pipeline and how much time and effort it takes to move from inquiry to close.

DGR: What are the considerations for the continued evolution of Sales 2.0 tools and processes?

Sklar: Process, trends, technology. The minute you feel comfortable in you process, it’s going to change, the tech is going to change. In the business today you have to innovate constantly. Everything is changing all the time. The culture needs to embrace the concept of iteration. For sales and marketing, sit at the table and ask the hard questions.

Galvin: When I think of what Sales 2.0 means, it really is a fulfillment of the promises how technology can improve my ability as a salesperson to meet customer requirements and close deals. We’re seeing some very creative, innovative technologies come to the forefront that are addressing the needs of salespeople. You don’t hear about adoption issues when you think about some of the technologies we’ve spoken about, yet that was a driving issue behind salesforce automation, because these are tools that are put in place that help salespeople reduce the amount of time it takes to perform an activity or increase the quality with which they do it. That’s the key to increasing productivity. To look inside the pipeline and see where those bottlenecks are and how to impact that is going to drive results for a leaner, meaner, more productive and therefore higher producing sales organization.